For five years in a row now, REI has closed its stores on Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year. It processes no online sales and it paid all its 12,000 employees to spend the day outside with friends and family.
How big is Black Friday? It is routinely one of the largest U.S. shopping days, both in stores and online. Adobe Digital Insights Inc. estimates that the single day in 2018 brought in $6.2 billion in online sales in the U.S.
We’re completely into the #OptOutside concept at Good Earth Plant Company – we caught on in year number two and told you about it back then. It seems like we barely get to clear the Thanksgiving dinner table before the madness known as Black Friday hits us. We could all use a reason to burn some calories and do some good for the planet after chowing down Thursday night.
Let’s face it, a LOT of our Thanksgiving dinner activities don’t fall in the sustainable category.
There’s some serious public relations genius behind this. The #OptOutside hashtag gets a lot of mileage around this time of year. Why wouldn’t the reaction be positive? Who really cares how the idea got started?
What seems a little strange to me is how few other businesses, organizations, and groups have joined into this movement after five years. Good Earth Plant Company will do its part, starting with this blog post.
REI’s President and CEO Eric Artz is pushing the original #OptOutside idea forward this year so it can last all through 2020. In addition to choosing to turn Black Friday into Green Friday, he’s asking everyone to pitch in and do more.
In a public letter October 23, Artz wrote, “It’s time to fight for life outdoors—and life on this planet. We must opt to act.” He then offered a list of four ideas:
- Participating in #OptOutside on the Friday after Thanksgiving
- Participating in an organized nationwide cleanup on Friday OR
- Pledging to pick up trash on whatever #OptOutside activities you participate in, even if it’s a simple walk through your neighborhood
- Signing up and following the new 52-week Opt to Act plan—sourced from tips shared by REI employees—and take the small steps throughout the year to reduce your environmental footprint and create lifelong habits.
But in our opinion, there are several things you can and SHOULD do right now, and you don’t have to wait 52 weeks. These tips fit right in with the holiday season. Why wait?
- Switch to electronic bill payments and notifications. Opt out of junk mail. Try to go paperless for one entire day. Can you do it? Could you do it at least one workday each week?
- Don’t buy commercially printed gift-wrapping paper. Repurpose newspaper comics (yes, they still exist!), or beautifully printed magazines you receive. Use old maps or other paper thrift store finds. Use a recyclable gift bag.
- Unplug home appliances you aren’t using. They drain energy even when off. Turn your thermostat do
wn one degree. Especially my neighbors in San Diego, come on this should not be hard for us!
- Try to shop for gifts locally and in person. We get it, online shopping is convenient but it’s hard on the environment. If you must shop online, choose the slowest shipping option you can. Ask to have purchases held for just ONE shipment.
- Check your tire pressure to make sure you’re getting the maximum possible gas mileage.
- Add a book to your reading list about environmental issues. One we really like is “Inconspicuous Consumption: The Environmental Impact You Don’t Know You Have” by Tatiana Schlossberg. We warn you, it will change your thinking about a lot of your “green” habits. Then pass it on to someone else.
- REGISTER TO VOTE – NOW! And get a friend or family member to do the same. But we don’t necessarily recommend talking politics with anyone at the Thanksgiving dinner table.
The time to address climate change and our impact on the Earth has never been more important. We can’t wait for our leaders to make the big changes. We need to make every small change we can right away. Every day and every week gives YOU the chance to turn your everyday habits into more eco-friendly behavior. The more you do, the easier it gets. Lots of little steps add up to big results – and even better if we can do it together.